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Kansas's underrated senior forward, Alonzo Jamison, helped hold David Booth, DePaul's leading scorer, to four points, none in the second half. "He was shouting at his teammates, he was so frustrated," Jamison said afterward. "That's when I knew we had them."
Jayhawk guard Rex Walters was considerably hotter than DePaul, both from the floor and under the collar. Walters, a sweet-shooting 6'4" junior transfer from Northwestern and perhaps the Jayhawks' most important newcomer this year, got into a heated argument with ESPN announcer Dick Vitale at practice the day before the game; he was upset because Vitale had criticized his decision to leave Northwestern. Walters then went out and hit four of his five three-point attempts on the way to a game-high 24 points.
"[ ESPN] showed a picture of me and two former teammates and had the label TURNCOAT on my picture," Walters said. "That upset me, and it really upset my father. Coach [ Vitale] said I had a good situation at Northwestern and made the wrong decision to leave." For his part, Vitale claimed that he was not responsible for the label on the photo.
Walters apologized to Vitale before Saturday's game, not for what he said but for the way he said it. "I'm a little too cocky and brash sometimes, and he deserves my respect," Walters said. "And I'm glad I could show the country that I'm not just a turncoat, but I'm also a very good basketball player."
The Orange Squeezes Back
There probably isn't a coach in the country who has had his competence questioned more often than Jim Boeheim of Syracuse. Last year one publication listed him among the worst bench coaches in the country. But take a look at this year's Orangemen. Syracuse seemed ripe for a collapse after losing Billy Owens and LeRon Ellis to the NBA; instead Syracuse was off to a 6-0 start that included an 89-71 victory over Florida State on Dec. 3 and an 89-72 defeat of previously unbeaten TCU last Saturday. Of course, the Orange has yet to play its first Big East conference game. Still, it looks as if Boeheim is doing something right.
The Orangemen aren't as loaded with talent as they have been in previous years, in part because the Syracuse administration is conducting an investigation into possible NCAA violations, and the threat of probation scared off a number of top recruits who might otherwise have signed with the Orange, including Donyell Marshall, who ended up at Connecticut, and Jalen Rose, who went to Michigan.
One recruit who stuck with Syracuse is Lawrence Moten, a 6'5" freshman forward who had 25 points and six rebounds against TCU. "What can you say about Lawrence Moten?" Boeheim said after the game. "Sometimes he plays like a guy six-nine, and sometimes he plays with the head of a real smart point guard." When Moten was named MVP of the Carrier Classic, which Syracuse won on Dec. 7 by beating St. Joseph's 72-70, he became the first freshman to win the award since Magic Johnson earned it while playing for Michigan State in 1977.
Moten's emergence has more than compensated for the absence of center Conrad McRae, who was declared ineligible by the NCAA on Nov. 19 and barred from playing for the Orangemen because of violations committed by Syracuse during his recruitment. The State Supreme Court of New York upheld the NCAA ban in a special court session on Saturday. But McRae would be eligible to play immediately if he transferred, and Missouri has been mentioned as his next destination. In any case, the Orangemen are doing better on the court than McRae is doing in it.